Three autoclaves arrived today (July 27) at the site of Graphite Resources' £50 million Derwenthaugh EcoParc, in Gateshead.The autoclaves, which are the first of their kind in the UK, will be capable of treating 320,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste and commercial waste a year using steam. They were shipped across the Gulf of Mexico and spent 17 days travelling to the Tyne Dock.
Construction at the EcoParc originally began in June 2008 (see letsrecycle.com story) and a spokeswoman for Graphite Resources said the facility was expected to be up-and-running in late 2009.
Birmingham-based environmental engineering company Enpure has provided the rotating steam autoclave technology, known as Rotoclave, which is licensed from the USA.
It is also providing waste loading walking floors and conveyors, unloading conveyors, steam raising plant, and wastewater treatment equipment for the facility.
The autoclave process involves up to 30 tonnes of municipal solid waste being loaded into each enclosed Rotoclave vessel. These then rotate before pressurised steam is introduced, raising the temperature to 160 degrees Centigrade. During the hour-long process the MSW is broken down, with food, paper and organic cellulose material being turned into a fibrous material.
Segregation then takes place through a series of screens, trommels and magnets to remove recyclables, with the autoclave process having softened and reduced in volume any plastic and both de-lacquered and steam-cleaned materials such as tin, aluminium, steel and aerosols.
Richard Mair, executive director at Graphite Resources said: “Today marks a key milestone for us. This new equipment will help towards managing the ever growing problem of managing waste. Transporting the autoclaves has been a great engineering feat. They are the largest autoclaves to arrive in the UK so we had to ensure that all the necessary measures and precautions were taken for their safe arrival.”
The EcoParc will have an MSW and commercial waste reception area, an autoclave and separation area, space for pre-sorted materials, and a green waste transfer station.
The spokeswoman added: “The innovative technology offers a minimum diversion of 80% from landfill. Steam autoclaving is more effective at landfill diversion than many competing mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) processes. It also has a beneficial carbon footprint compared to landfill and incineration.”
Graphite Resources was recently awarded planning permission to build a second EcoParc in the North-East. The South Tees EcoParc will be four miles from Middlesbrough and is expected to treat up to 500,000 tonnes-a-year of MSW.